Thursday, August 11, 2011

Cheap Ting Is Good Ting

How often have we been told this by our parents, even if not in so many words … or at least so I’m told. My mother it seems was a novelty in that way, as she always aimed to spend the least amount of money as possible, only ever shopping at sale racks and garage sales.

Bohemia on Murray Street. Images by Joshua Cazoe
This attitude of thriftiness was consistent even when our financial situation improved and I’ve maintained this sensibility in my adulthood. To be honest I cannot recollect the last time I bought clothes … seems like a distant memory. The universe has a way of aligning like minds and born out of the shared experience of free and garbage bag shopping, former class mate Michelle Isava and I decided to broaden our horizons with a traveling second hand clothes stall affectionately entitled Sloppy Secondz.
The Cheap Ting Iz Good Ting is the brain child of Isava and was meant to be an appendage outlet involving other artists and their craft. In this first edition of Alternative Traveling Artisan Market (ATAM) Sloppy Secondz featured used clothes, shoes, books, DVDs and originally designed denim bags made from jean pant legs.
The catchy title of the market Cheap Ting is Good Ting managed to attract facebook users and other curious who’d heard about it via word of mouth. An integral part of Isava’s vision was to establish a space where the customer is valued as much as the product. As a result customers were encouraged to barter and haggle, while artists employed both early bird before noon and buy me out late in the day specials.
The first edition of this monthly event was appropriately housed at Bohemia on Murray St in Woodbrook – a space that has supported the arts for many years, allowing contributors to decorate freely.

Bohemia on Murray Street. Images by Joshua Cazoe
The three day market started off with a bang on Friday night with live entertainment by three local musicians and a high fashion fashion show, featuring designers Ivaek Archer and Sharlene Bramble. ATAM provided Archer with a unique opportunity to showcase his discontinued female line, as he currently only pursues male design, including a male underwear line CHIZ*L.
Buyers were also given a once in a lifetime chance to buy couture clothing through a call ya price system. I myself purchased an incredibly unique shirt with a Ziploc bag pocket for $40. His pieces also included a red jacket with clothes pegs as fasteners and ties made of crocus bag. Archer’s designs as well as the work of several of the other artists set the tone for the conscious production at ATAM, with his clothes proving not only to be eco friendly but innovative; seen in his ability to take familiar motifs and upcycle them to create a truly exclusive masterpiece.

Ivaek Archer for Chiz*l Mensware. Images by Brianna McCarthy and Olivia Fern
Sharlene Bramble, another mutli talented contributor showed her line of crochet swim wear OFF THE HOOK DZINGS and watched while the models walked down the newly painted runway, illuminated by lanterns made by Jemima Charles.

Lantern by Jemima Charles $200 TT. Design by Sharlene Bramble OFF THE HOOK DZINGS. Photo by Olivia Fern.
Saturday’s turn out was quite hopeful for a first venture, though an unforeseen crisis prevented the desired client flow on Sunday – the final day of the event, which clashed with a Red Bull Flug tag event that caused massive traffic pile ups in north and east Trinidad.

Crowd buzzing- L-R Leitch, Arnaldo James & Michelle Isava
Participants were excited about sharing their experience with the event. Mariyah Rahman stated “The Alternative Art Market was a wonderful experience. It was lovely to be around fellow artisans, and to finally have an outlet to showcase and sell my work, especially an outlet that was so easily accessible and free. My small business is called Maribug and while I sometimes do catering, it is mostly focused on women’s accessories that I make myself. This market was ideal for me to finally begin gaining more exposure and building a solid client base. I am looking forward to participating again and seeing the display of skill and innovation from local artists and designers. While I believe people either underestimate or overlook the talent of local artisans, I think that this market was a huge step in the right direction to change that.

Maribug's Offering
Designer and artist Olivia Fern also shared her experience about what the event accomplished: “Our introductory ATAM launched our effort to create a community space for commerce that allowed more balanced terms of benefits for local artisans and buyers. We had encouraging interest and support for our effort. We came together and gave the public the alternative to affordably acquire impressive, artistic, fashionable and resourceful items/clothing. We also tried to promote the idea that incredible things can be made from what many would discard as waste. Regardless, our items were reliable and considerably cheap, with the option of barter, labour or cash exchange. Ultimately, it’s a good opportunity for local artists and artisans of any speciality to introduce or market their work at little or no cost.

Aya Impression by Olivia Fern. Images by Joshua Cazoe
ATAM however did not discriminate against non national creatives, with two of the contributors being Latin American, one who was physically present at the market and anothers whose work was represented from distance.

Mauricia Fletcher. Image by Joshua Cazoe

Michelle Isava with arepas. Image by Joshua Cazoe

Handmade Soap by Rachel Charles. Image by Joshua Cazoe
In the end many of the contributors bartered and traded amongst themselves, which was both an unanticipated and inevitable action that not only generated money but created real ground for networking among artists and provided a much needed sense of community. The second edition of Cheap Ting is Good Ting will be later on this month at a venue TBA. If you are interested in ordering any of the items you have seen here you can make contact via the Cheap Ting Is Good Ting page.
Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.
Originally Published by Arc Magazine

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